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Gynogenetic Reproduction in Hybrid Mole Salamanders (Genus Ambystoma)

Christina Spolsky, Christopher A. Phillips and Thomas Uzzell
Evolution
Vol. 46, No. 6 (Dec., 1992), pp. 1935-1944
DOI: 10.2307/2410041
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2410041
Page Count: 10
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Gynogenetic Reproduction in Hybrid Mole Salamanders (Genus Ambystoma)
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Abstract

Ambystoma platineum, a unisexual clonal triploid taxon of mole salamander, originated by hybridization between the Mendelian species A. jeffersonianum and A. laterale. Studies of lampbrush chromosomes indicated that A. platineum reproduces gynogenetically, that is, sperm from a sexual host species is required to activate egg development but makes no genetic contribution to the developing embryo. Nevertheless, electrophoretic diversity in populations of some hybrid Ambystoma suggested continual in situ recreation of unisexual hybrids and bidirectional gene exchange between the parental species and the hybrids. A. platineum usually lives with, and is sexually dependent on, one of its parental species, A. jeffersonianum. In central Indiana, however, A. platineum populations have shifted their host dependency to A. texanum. Such A. texanum-dependent populations of A. platineum provide an almost ideal system for studying reproductive mode in A. platineum, because both replacement of a jeffersonianum or laterale genome of A. platineum by a texanum genome, and movement of genes from A. platineum to the host species, A. texanum, would be readily detected by electrophoretic markers. Our samples of A. texanum provided no evidence for the transfer of jeffersonianum or laterale genes into A. texanum. Similarly, among 32 A. platineum sampled from six localities in east-central Illinois and central Indiana, we find no texanum alleles, and thus no evidence for genome replacement. The one diploid hybrid individual contained only a jeffersonianum and a laterale genome; because of the absence of either parental species from these populations, this hybrid could only have come from a diploid ovum produced by A. platineum. Both morphometric and electrophoretic results for the two tetraploid individuals indicate that they resulted from fertilization of triploid oocytes of A. platineum by sperm of A. texanum. Because genome replacement in A. texanum-dependent populations of A. platineum is irreversible, the persistence of A. platineum in A. texanum-dependent populations demonstrates conclusively that the major mode of reproduction in A. platineum populations is clonal: A. platineum produces mainly triploid eggs that develop gynogenetically.

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